Voting 101: What to Know Before You Vote


Brenna Flores

As elections near, people will start to receive their mail-in ballots on Oct. 5.

In 2019 Governor David Ige signed off on a bill that stated, starting with the 2020 election, that Hawaii will have an all-mail voting system. During the primary election this year, there were 407,190 mail-in ballots collected and 5,474 in-person ballots cast. This was a record-breaking turnout, the last time Hawaii had this many people voting was 1994.  With the general election around the corner, here is some information that you should know before you vote this year.

How to register
In Hawaii, to register to vote, there are two options. The first option is going in person from 7:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m and registering at the Office of Elections, which is located at Honolulu Hale. The second option is to register online on the Office of Elections website. The deadline for early registration is Monday, Oct. 5, by 4:30 p.m., but you can also do same-day registration at any Voter Service Centers. In order to register in any state, you need to be a resident of the state and also be a citizen of the U.S. For more information about other states’ deadlines for early registration visit the How to Register to Vote website. 

How to Vote
Similar to registering to vote, there are two options for voting in the general election this year. The options are either mail-in ballots or in-person voting. In Hawaii, everyone who registered to vote before Oct. 5 will receive a ballot in the mail, which will be sent out from Oct. 5 to Oct. 16. If you do not receive a ballot by Oct. 16, contact the Elections Division of your county.  The mail-in ballots must be mailed in by Oct. 27 through USPS, but after this date, you can still turn in your ballot at any dropbox. For people who would rather vote in-person or are doing same-day voter registration, there will be Voter Service Centers open. The deadline for voting is Nov. 3 at 7 p.m.; any ballots that are received after this will not be counted, even if the ballot is postmarked Nov. 3. 

Mail-in Ballot Information
For the mail-in ballots, it is very important that you fill them out properly in order to make sure that your ballot is counted. In the ballot packet, there will be a ballot, a ballot secrecy sleeve, a return ballot envelope (prepaid postage), and voting instructions. The most important detail to remember is to properly mark the ballot using a black or blue pen to ensure that your vote is counted. If the ballot is spoiled in any way, contact the Clerk’s office or visit a Voter Service Center. Once you have voted on the ballot, refold it and place it into the secrecy sleeve. After that place the sleeve into the return envelope and then sign the outside of the envelope, if it is not signed the ballot will not be counted. The signature will be compared against the one that is on file to confirm your identity. More information about mail-in ballots can be found on the Office of Elections website.

Voter Service Center and Dropbox Information
During this election, there will Voter Service Centers open for people who are doing same-day registration, in-person voting, or people who need assistance voting. These centers will be open from Oct. 20 to Nov. 2 from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and Nov. 3 from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. For the City and County of Honolulu, there will be two voter centers that are located at Honolulu Hale and Kapolei Hale. At these locations, there will also be ballot drop boxes but those are not the only places that will have drop boxes. Some of the state parks around the island will have drop boxes located in the parking lots for easy access. To find information about Voter Service Center and drop off locations in Hawaii visit Returning Your Voted Ballot, 2020 General Election